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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lifestyle licks life

Whatever goes on in the global economy,lifestyle channels live in la-la land

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | February 3, 2009 1:32:39 am

Watching television has become something of a bipolar experience. Coverage of the Davos World Economic Forum provides grim news about the global economy; BBC and CNN begin each morning with the latest and alarming unemployment figures; our business channels report poor returns for the last quarter — we’re living in Bleak Box. Meanwhile,Travel & Living,Fashion TV and other channels celebrating the rich and the famous offer us the 10 most luxurious hotels,homes,holidays (you name it),seemingly unaffected by the financial crisis. Such shows are pre-recorded,we know; but it’s been four months and counting since the meltdown and you’d expect some acknowledgment : cheaper resorts,restaurants and recreation — the art of simpler living. These channels were always a luxury; can we afford them any longer?

‘The boys’ Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla may have designed priceless garments,but talk show hosts they are not. On The First Ladies with Abu Sandeep (NDTV Good Times),they’re so deeply ensconced in the armchairs,even their words find it difficult to rise and greet their guests. It’s all too comfortable. Last week,Neerja Birla tried to make them (us) sit up straight with her perkiness and she did very well but Abu Sandeep were reluctant to bestir themselves. Since they’re not as flamboyant as their clothes,the show depends entirely upon the performance of its guests. Rakhi Sawant haazir ho?  

NDTV Imagine has introduced its third new serial of the month. The last time it was this innovative was when it was launched — last January. The sitcom,Ghar Ki Baat Hai has a terrific cast of actors and a terribly poor scriptwriter. The plots are so flimsy you could walk through them without displacing the air. In the opening episode,it is Mr. and Mrs’ fifth wedding anniversary but Mr. has forgotten and Mrs. has a bet that Mr. will remember which Mr. overhears and deliberately pretends to forget,something he had done in the first place but never mind. Mrs.,on the advice of a screwball lawyer,decides she will divorce Mr. A husband’s forgetfulness has been a stock humour situation since jokes wed marriages but to pull it off requires great comic repartee,missing here. Suggest a switch to the remaining saas-bahus,Saat Phere perhaps — where the husbands genuinely forget their anniversaries on account of accidental amnesia.  

Preferred Arre Deewano Mujhe Pehchano (Star Plus) where the contest between eight celebrities in disguise is really amusing. OK,sometimes. Mandira Bedi as Baba Calmdev was a complete rip-off. Interestingly,male contestants such as Mahesh Manjrekar and Gulshan Grover disapproved of her toilet humour while the women,Mona Singh,Rakhi Sawant were unaffected by it. Odd,isn’t?     

We always knew that news channels do not think there is news beyond the headlines otherwise they would not broadcast entertainment shows continuously,sometimes entire episodes of soaps. Watched Baalika Vadhu on IBN-7 last week and when Vaishali won Zee’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa,the finale played till midday next morning. Soon we’ll catch the news on Colors or Zee.

We also appreciate that real life is the more absorbing soap opera. For instance,Oscar rivals to Slumdog Millionaire,Milk and Frost/Nixon are based on actual events and personalities. So it isn’t surprising to see news channels accompanying Fiza as she was carried down the stairs at home and fell into the car this way and that after an alleged suicide attempt. What’s surprising is that Fiza,allowed this to happen,repeatedly exposed herself to and on TV, in distress. Why invite the camera into your dining room unless you want them to feast on or off you? P.S. English news channels have adopted the Hindi news habit of proclaiming every headline in capital letters one-inch large like edicts writ in stone,or in case you are shortsighted!  

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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